Henry Hekman speelt disc golf.

Henry on Disc Golf at Park Oudegein: “The course is always open, so you can play whenever you want”

Is it a place to store the scooter or bicycle? Or you can lay the towel in there to sunbathe? Why these iron poles with chains? If you’ve been walking down Park Oudegein, you’ve likely noticed the concrete slabs and accompanying baskets. But did you know this is the place to play disc golf?

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As we begin a round of golf at Park Oudegein on Saturday morning, we have already met many players. A young Portland couple who has been playing for 10 to 15 years, father and baby are just getting started. “You throw it a lot nose up, the disc may not be stuck properly. Henry Hickman potential client For the Disc Golf Nieuwegein Association (DSA Nieuwegein) and regularly walks around the park to talk to the players and give them directions. In this role, he also organizes club and clinic tours and tracks the track.

Increasingly popular disc golf

“It’s still relatively calm at the moment, but on Saturdays, on average, 40-50 people play here.” People who play disc golf are very diverse. “We were just meeting with young Americans and the youngest member of the association is 10 years old. We also offer youth clinics for SportID and we will be there again during National Sports Week in September.” The association has grown tremendously. “In 2019, the largest number of members was around twenty. We are now in the 100 members.”

Between golf and the ultimate frisbee

Disc golf is similar to regular golf in many ways, but with a frisbee (disc golf is called disc). The goal is very simple: throw the disc into the basket with the fewest number of throws possible. “In terms of the sporting experience, disc golf is different from regular golf: you walk on a green, trying to go from point A to point B and score goals.” But this is where the comparison ends. “The only sport that comes close – and that also falls under Union Frisbee – is ultimate frisbee. This is American football with Frisbee. You have a lot of people in the disc golf world who used to play ultimate frisbee.”

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Henry plays disc golf at Park Oudegein. Photo: Jessica Heijmans

Hikers hit and hit the bird in the water

In Park Oudegein you will find twelve holes. Each hole has a sign that tells you how many par you have, or how many throws it takes the average player to throw the disc into the basket. If you play a round alone, you will be busy for 30 to 45 minutes. Because you are playing in a public park, you have to be careful. “If you hit a pedestrian or a cyclist traveling at 60 kilometers per hour, it’s not fun. Of course you can be unlucky because people are hiking here, and then you get past the pit. Safety comes first.”

What’s that? “About 30 UFOs are thrown into the water every week.” But don’t worry if this happens to you. Henry regularly dives into the water in a special suit to reveal the discs. “Now we have about 75 discs that were found in the trunk of Henry’s car,” says one of the players from Portland. “I put my cell phone number on my disks. In America I got about 15 percent of my disks back, here 80 percent!”

Accessible to everyone

The fact that the golf course is located in a public park has a big advantage: “The course is always there. You play whenever you want, you don’t have to rent a room and you don’t have to pay an entrance fee. So the only cost is the discs. You can do it any time of the day. Sometimes I think: The weather is nice, I feel like playing during lunch. Then call someone and we go together.”

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All you have to do is bring your discs

It is not necessary to become a member of the DSA Nieuwegein. “But I will take a good look at what kind of frisbee you buy. Because if you arrive with a regular Frisbee, it will be difficult.” There are three types of discs: drive, mid-range, paddle, which differ in stability and aerodynamics. “Anyway, you need what’s called a racquet disc and a mid-range disc for the different distances.”

Henry speaks from his experience. When he could no longer play indoors in May 2020, one of his squash companions asked him to play disc golf on the renovated course in Park Oudegein. “Obviously we played the wrong Frisbee. Then you meet someone with a bag full of pills and you think: How much does he have, what does he need all this for?”

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Henry with disc golf at Park Oudegein.
Henry with a bag full of tablets at Park Oudegein. Photo: Jessica Heijmans

100 points for improvement

Meanwhile Henry himself carries a professional bag of about 20 golf discs. He has gained a lot of experience. But he has not finished learning. “When I started I thought: a bit of a boring sport, this will work. Until you see the people who can do it well and who want to take you that far.” You have to practice a lot for that. “You can teach someone to play golf in the afternoon, but it takes years to perfect the technique and apply it correctly. There are 100 little things you need to learn, like the position of your thumb, taking into account the wind and the force you are using. That is the great thing about a game Golf: It never stops. You can always improve yourself. Being able to play your style endlessly, I think is really crazy.”

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Want to try disc golf or improve your technique? Then you can go to the club tour on Sunday morning. “I often bring discs that you can use. Then you try it out and see if the disc works for you. And when you come along, you immediately get some advice.”

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